Voting booths await early voters at Ketchikan’s Gateway Recreation Center on Oct. 20, 2020. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

Three more people have joined Ketchikan’s municipal ballot as the deadline to run for city and borough office draws nearer.


One of the new candidates is a familiar face on Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly. Glen Thompson is seeking a fifth three-year term on the assembly after a few years away from local government. He pitches himself as a budget hawk.

“We need to be fiscally responsible,” he said. “We need to figure out how to make sure that the budget is solid and sustainable over time.”

Thompson, who also served on the school board for just under two years before resigning in 2019, says he’d like to keep the borough’s funding to the school district about the same or slightly higher than it is.

But he says he’s concerned about the state of the borough’s deficit-plagued education funding account. Thompson helped establish the Local Education Fund during a prior stint on the assembly. He says he wants to balance the fund by dedicating more of the borough’s revenue towards education.

Thompson does take issue with one major line item in the borough’s budget. He’s among the roughly 300 people who signed a petition to ask voters to cut borough funding for the Ketchikan Public Library. The sponsors of the initiative say it’s a response to the library’s decision to host a storytime with a drag queen during Pride Month.

A property tax on homes and businesses outside city limits currently provides about 40% of the library’s annual funding — about $500,000.

“I think the library should be paid for by city taxes, and they can pull it out of the sales tax that everybody pays into,” he said. “Now, if the city believes that that’s not adequate, or not fair, and they decide they want to charge folks who don’t live inside the city limits a fee to use the library, I’m fine with that.”

It’s not the first time Thompson has looked to cut library funding — he also voted to eliminate the borough’s library tax in 2014 and 2015.

Thompson joins a four-candidate field vying for two seats on the Borough Assembly. He’s up against incumbent Austin Otos and challengers Michael Iann Martin and Joshua Titus.

In another race, first-time candidate and carpenter Dion Booth has filed to run for a three-year term on Ketchikan’s City Council.

He says he’d like to address the growing number of people who don’t have stable housing in Ketchikan. But he says he’s not sure how to address the issue.

“I think the first thing before we even try to find a solution is to find out why and how it’s happening.”

The city and its nonprofit partners have studied the problem a few times in recent years. The results of the most recent survey — the Alaska Mental Health Trust’s homeless needs assessment — are scheduled to be presented to the public at 6 p.m. on August 24 at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.

On other issues, Booth says he opposed recent efforts to balance Ketchikan’s city budget by raising property taxes. (The council ultimately raised sales taxes instead.)

Asked for other ideas to raise revenue, he suggested an unconventional approach: writing tickets to people who leave shopping carts from the local Safeway grocery store on the docks of the nearby Bar Harbor marina.

“It’s a problem for anybody who goes to Safeway and wants to use a cart and there are none, and I wonder if maybe our parking enforcement could team up with the ports and harbors (department),” Booth said.

Booth joins a three-candidate field in the race for two City Council seats that are both three year terms. He’s running against incumbents Mark Flora and Lallette Kistler.

The third candidate to join the fray in recent days is Melissa O’Bryan. She’s running for a three-year term on the school board. She says she brings a unique perspective — she’s a parent of four kids, a graduate of the school system, a former teacher’s aide and a disability advocate.

“I feel like I have a well-rounded balance of issues that the district faces,” she said. “I just really want to figure out the best way to support the kids in our district and support the staff we have and the families we have.”

O’Bryan is currently in project development for Ketchikan Indian Community’s housing department. She’s the second candidate to enter the race for two seats on the board, following Tom Heutte.

Candidates can file to run with the city or borough clerks until 5 p.m. Thursday. Election day is Oct. 4.

Disclosure: Tom Heutte is a member of KRBD’s nonprofit board of directors, which does not direct the newsroom.